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The Innocence Mission: The Brotherhood of Man

From the Proprietor:

This is an album review from my good friend Ben Shive, whose musical opinion holds a lot of water in my book (a mixed metaphor that is so strange a picture I decided to leave it). I have The Innocence Mission’s hymns record, and it’s in regular rotation on Sunday mornings at the Warren. I haven’t heard this record yet, but Ben makes a compelling case for how I should spend my next ten bucks.

I stood in the parking lot with tears welling up in my eyes. The parking lot was the rendezvous point for a road trip I was embarking on with a friend. The tears in my eyes were occasioned by the lyrics to “The Brotherhood Of Man,” which I had just read from the insert of my friend’s copy of The Innocence Mission’s album, We Walked In Song.

All day, since your haircut in the morning You have looked like a painting, even more than usual We are in the wind, planting the maples We meet an older man who seems to know I miss my dad And he smiles through the limbs We talk easily with him Until the rain begins This is the brotherhood of man

Waiting at the airport on my suitcase A girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend Though I did not learn her name And when the subway dimmed a stranger lit my way This is the brotherhood of man

I never can say what I mean But you will understand Coming through clouds on the way This is the brotherhood of man

It’s all I can do not to print the entire sleeve of the record here*. We Walked In Song is so lyrically picturesque it’s almost a photo album. A treatise on brotherly love, these songs collectively speak a blessing on humanity. As Karen Peris, the band’s front-woman and writer, sings benediction after benediction–to her children, to loved-ones lost, to the brotherhood of man–her voice is the sound of love sweetly bearing grief. All this is couched in melodies and harmonies that radiate warmth, with generally sparse and understated accompaniment. Guitars, piano, harmonium, and touches of percussion are usually all that adorn the lyric. There’s very little drum set on the record, and it’s frequently saved for the end of a song. When the drums finally kick in, however, The Innocence Mission sounds like The Sundays in a rainy-day mood, and that’s a very good thing.

This band has been making music for a number of years and I have sadly been unaware of them until now. But from the opening bars of We Walked In Song, I knew that The Innocence mission and I were old friends just meeting.

*Here’s a link:


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